Phoenix Union Superintendent Gestson leaving after 8 years at helm

Mar 30, 2023, 12:05 PM

(Screenshot/Phoenix Union High School District YouTube)...

(Screenshot/Phoenix Union High School District YouTube)

(Screenshot/Phoenix Union High School District YouTube)

PHOENIX — The superintendent of the Valley’s largest public high school district is leaving after eight years for a university-level position, he announced Thursday.

Chad Gestson will finish the school year at Phoenix Union High School District after serving for eight years, according to a press release.

He’s set to take on the role of founding executive director of the Arizona Institute for Education and the Economy, which is set to launch on Northern Arizona University’s Phoenix campus on July 1.

“Bittersweet. I can’t think of a better way to describe my emotions,” Gestson said in the release.

Gestson made national headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic when his high school district announced it would disregard state law and require masks indoors regardless of an individuals’ vaccination status.

The district was also one of the first in Phoenix to eliminate school resource officers from their roles in 2021.

“PXU is my family. I love this place. I love our people. I have deep, life-long relationships here. Yet after 22 years of working in the system, it is now time for me to step out of the system in order to work more effectively, aggressively and unapologetically on the system, locally and nationally,” Gestson said.

The institute will work to understand education, the public sector and the economy, and how all three are linked.

Gestson will also serve as a special adviser on K-12 initiatives to NAU President Jose Luis Cruz Rivera.

His journey at Phoenix Union began 14 years ago as the principal of Camelback High School. He then moved up to the district’s director of school leadership.

Gestson’s resignation closes out the longest superintendent tenure in the district in over half a century.

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Phoenix Union Superintendent Gestson leaving after 8 years at helm